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Get to Know Kentucky’s New Quarterback Devin Leary

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N.C. State Athletics

In 2020, Liam Coen brought in a relatively unknown quarterback from Penn State, Will Levis. In two seasons at Kentucky, Levis developed into one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

With Coen’s return all but confirmed, the Kentucky football team has found their quarterback for next season, this time with a higher profile. On Tuesday, Devin Leary, the No. 1 quarterback in the transfer portal (247Sports) announced his commitment to play for the Wildcats over the likes of Auburn, Florida, and others.

Now that we know who will be under center, let’s learn more about him.

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Devin Leary

  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Class: Redshirt Senior (1 year of eligibility remaining)
  • Weight: 215 lbs.
  • Position: Quarterback
  • Hometown: Sicklerville, NJ
  • Recruit Rankings: HS: ★★★★ No. 16 Pro-Style QB; Transfer: ★★★★ No. 1 QB

Originally a part of the 2018 recruiting class, Leary was a fringe four-star quarterback that ultimately committed to NC State over the likes of Baylor, Iowa, and Minnesota among others. Kentucky even expressed some interest, but never offered a scholarship.

Making the decision to redshirt his freshman season, Leary’s chance finally came in the middle of his redshirt freshman campaign. Due to injuries and poor QB play, NC State made the decision to start Leary in the final five games of the season.

Leary performed well enough to become the Wolfpack’s expected starting QB in 2020. However, missed crucial practice time after being quarantined, and then suffered a fractured fibula after being named the starter in week three.

Leary didn’t really have his breakout season until 2021, when he was named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award after throwing for 3,433 yards, 35 TDs, and just 5 interceptions.

His program-record-setting season put Leary’s name amongst the top tier of college football QBs and in 2022 was picked as ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Through six games, Leary led NC State to a 5-1 record and a top 15 ranking. However, his season ended after undergoing surgery on a torn pectoral muscle.

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What is Kentucky getting with Leary? A proven and experienced quarterback that makes quick decisions and takes care of the football. At one point, Leary had thrown 228 straight passes without an INT before a hail mary in 2021.

Despite having average athleticism and size, Leary is considered to have some of the best mechanics in college football and delivers accurate passes consistently. While he may not have the NFL ceiling as Levis has, Leary has proven more at the college level than Levis did.

While some question his injury, it is important to note that if Leary didn’t have that injury and was in the portal, Kentucky may not have gotten him. Bigger schools would have been willing to write a blank check to get him.

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Kentucky Football’s Incoming Transfers Introduce Themselves

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UK Athletics

On Wednesday, the media had a chance to talk to six out of the seven new transfers that transferred to Kentucky during winter break, with the exception being Jantzen Dunn (Ohio State). Each transfer is expected to come in and play significant roles, as they fill roster gaps.

With the influx of veteran talent to go alongside the young weapons that Kentucky displayed last season, the goal is to improve on an underwhelming 2022 season.

Let’s briefly look at what each player had to say in their introductory press conferences.

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Devin Leary

Committing to Kentucky in mid-December, Devin Leary has only been on campus for three weeks and is still rehabbing from his surgery for a torn pectoral muscle he suffered back in October. However, he is still trying to make an early impact on his new team.

“Really just being able to get around the guys and really just, you know, prove to them through my hard work, prove to them, you know, I’m eager to be here,” Devin Leary says during a media interview.

“I am very happy to be here, but at the same time, you know, it’s an honor and privilege to be here. I need to prove to them that I’m going to put in the work that it takes, you know, a lot of time and that I take it very serious, but at the same time it’s grabbing those guys on the side and, you know, diving into the playbook, doing extra film, and just really building that camaraderie, like right now.”

Spring practice starts in about a month and a half, so we will see if Leary will be fully healthy to go for spring ball, if not he should be fully healthy to start off the season in 2023.

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Ray Davis

In Liam Coen’s ‘re-introductory’ press conference, he talked about how important Chris Rodriguez and his ability to guarantee positive yardage has been to Kentucky. Now graduated, Coen and the program had to find another high talent back, which they found in the transfer portal.

Coming from Vanderbilt, new running back Ray Davis was tabbed as a four-star transfer and one of the best running backs in the portal. Kentucky will be Davis’ third stop in college football as he played at Temple University his freshman and sophomore years and most recently at the University of Vanderbilt for his junior and senior years.

One reason why Davis committed to Kentucky is he thinks UK was missing a few pieces towards the end of the year, that he thinks he can help with and get the Cats’ to compete in the SEC Championship

“Offensively, just knowing that they were missing just a few pieces once the season ended and I felt that, you know, if I come in and try to earn my spot, earn those reps, and try to get the starting job. I think I could help out the team and get us through that threshold of potentially competing for an SEC Championship,” Ray Davis says during a media interview.

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Tanner Bowles

Tanner Bowles was one of two offensive tackles that Kentucky landed in the transfer portal. Bowles, who is from Glasgow (KY), recently transferred from the University of Alabama to Lexington. In four seasons with the Crimson Tide (including a redshirt season), Bowles never became a starter, but appeared in all 12 games this season for one of the best offensive lines in the SEC.

“There’s a point in time, where you can lead with your words, but before that, you have to lead with your actions, so I think while I’m here right now, I don’t know when the time would be if I, you know, had a chance to lead with my words, but for now I am focused on, you know, just leading my actions, doing the little things right,” Tanner Bowles says during a media interview.

Marques Cox

Marques Cox was the second offensive tackle that Kentucky added from the transfer portal, coming from Northern Illinois University as a redshirt junior. Cox, like Devin Leary, suffered a season-ending foot injury, four games into the season when NIU faced off against UK.

As a proven veteran, Cox knows that the offensive line will have to improve this season, and he will bear much of that load. If they can succeed, Kentucky will be more capable of using their offensive weapons.

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“Just me and Tanner (Bowles) helping improve the offensive line and offense so they got weapons,” Marques Cox says during a media interview. “We got key players to do so, so it is just fixing everything.”

Keeshawn Silver

Now to the defensive side of the ball. One of Kentucky’s latest additions from the transfer portal was defensive tackle, Keeshawn Silver from North Carolina. Ranked as a five-star recruit in the 2021 class, the talent is there, but he could never get to a healthy playing weight at North Carolina.

One reason why Kentucky added him was due to Justin Rogers’s transferring to Auburn, leaving UK in need of another defensive lineman, which is where Silver comes in. Since arriving to campus, he feels like he has been able to build some great chemistry with his teammates.

“We talk daily, it’s really like the same things at Chapel Hill,” Keeshawn Silver says during a media interview. “I mean the guys, we bond together, have a good time, they like to have fun, I like to have fun.”

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JQ Hardaway

Finally, the last transfer that was interviewed was defensive back, JQ Hardaway, coming from Cincinnati. A native of Columbus, Georgia, Hardaway is “happy” to be in the SEC, a conference many poked fun at him for not joining out of high school.

The SEC is the highest level of football in the country, but Hardaway believes that he belongs and is confident in his skill set.

“I’m just a ballplayer, man, I feel like I am very confident in myself,” JQ Hardaway says during a media interview. “I like to have fun, I got kind of a swagger on the field, I would say. I’m just very comfortable, I feel like I can be myself, I don’t have to be anyone. I just kind of let my talent speak for itself.”

Over the last four seasons, Kentucky has sent three transfer corners to the NFL – Lonnie Johnson (Garden City CC), Kelvin Joseph (LSU), and Brandin Echols (Northwest Mississippi CC) – and Hardaway committed to Kentucky with that in mind. Will he be the next?

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Kentucky added some talented transfers this off-season and it will be interesting to see how they will have an impact on the team. Several questions should be answered over spring football, and hopefully, this group can help lead Kentucky to a better record in 2023.

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No. 1 Player in the State, Hayes Johnson Commits to Kentucky

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UK Athletics

On Thursday, Taylor County high school hosted a commitment ceremony for 2024 three-star Offensive tackle, Hayes Johnson, the No. 1 player in Kentucky for the 2024 class.

Johnson has been a hot commodity in this class because of his size and his elite skills in pass blocking which many teams need for the future. Ultimately, he chose Kentucky over other schools such as Baylor, Cincinnati, Louisville, Michigan State, and Tennessee.

From Campbellsville (KY), Johnson is a 6-foot-5, 295-pound tackle from that has the physicality to play at the SEC level. This is exactly what the Cats needed for this class, as they try to rebuild the pedigree of the Big Blue Wall, following the struggle of last year’s offensive line.

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The impact will be felt for the Cats as soon as Johnson steps on campus because of his skill set. He has the size to fight for a starting spot and day 1 and has a chance to be a three-four year starter which is very rare in college football nowadays.

With that said, Johnson has another year to get even better in the pass-and-run game to begin playing for the cats in 2024 when they would likely have a lot of new young faces on the offensive line. Comparisons for Johnson begin with another in-state player, Landon Young, who was an All-SEC level tackle for Kentucky (2016-20) and had a very similar frame to Johnson.

Johnson’s commitment is a big step in the right direction as the program trys to find young pieces to build the Big Blue Wall for the coming years.

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Kentucky Offers Scholarship to Chase Couch, Son of Tim Couch

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© RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing up the 2023 recruiting class – barring some spring/summer additions – the Kentucky football staff have shifted their focus to 2024. On Friday, they extended an offer to a big legacy recruit in the class.

Chase Couch, the son of former Kentucky quarterback and 1999 No. 1 overall pick, Tim Couch, announced that he had received one his first D-1 offers, and from Kentucky.

With a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, Couch has good size like his father, but unlike his father he is an edge rusher. This past season, Couch totaled 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and one sack for Lexington Christian Academy.

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Expect the staff to possibly extend more offers with a junior day approaching next weekend. Couch is just the latest offer as the Wildcats try to hone in on who they want.

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